Tag: game recaps

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Game of the Week: Blackhawks lose, must depend on a Stars’ loss for playoff berth

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On their final game of the 2010-11 season, the Chicago Blackhawks only needed one point to clinch a playoff berth. Unfortunately, that one point had to come against the Detroit Red Wings, a requirement the Hawks could not meet in a 4-3 loss.

Now the defending Stanley Cup champions must await the results of a Dallas Stars-Minnesota Wild game to find out if they’ll even make the playoffs. The situation is simple: if the Stars win in regulation or overtime, they’re in; if the Stars lose or require a shootout, the Blackhawks will be the West’s eighth seed.

Detroit 4, Chicago 3

Technically speaking, the Red Wings didn’t have anything to play for this afternoon. Detroit’s place as the third seed was already cemented thanks to a San Jose Sharks win on Saturday. Still, Detroit had been stumbling lately and clearly wanted to build momentum going into the playoffs, even if their team is far from 100 percent.

After building a one-goal lead going into the second intermission, Drew Miller scored into an almost abandoned Blackhawks net to make it 3-1 about two minutes into the final frame. Brent Seabrook sent a booming shot by Jimmy Howard to give Chicago life at 3-2, but then Todd Bertuzzi delivered a big hit and a beautiful assist on Danny Cleary’s goal to build Detroit’s lead back to 4-2.

Things seemed dire until Duncan Keith exhibited great hands in front of the Red Wings net to bring the game to 4-3 midway through the third.

Keith got them back in the game and had an excellent opportunity in the dying seconds of the game, as he found himself with the puck in front of Detroit’s net once again. Unfortunately, this time he didn’t get a lucky bounce, as the puck rolled too much for him to get a decent shot on goal.

If the Stars win and boot the Blackhawks out of the playoffs, that moment might be tinged with regret, even if Keith made a heads-up play to get in front of the net to begin with. Sometimes that is just how sports work, though; an understandable missed opportunity can turn to a historic disappointment just like that.

Howard will finish the season with 37 wins, making 33 out of 36 saves. Lazy sportswriters might blame Chicago’s goaltending if they miss the playoffs, but Corey Crawford has been a revelation, winning 33 games this season. He’ll regret allowing four goals this afternoon, but overall, Crawford has been a find after Marty Turco flopped in net.

Naturally, we’ll keep you updated regarding tonight’s big Stars-Wild game, as we go from a Blackhawks game witnessed by more people than usual in Dallas to a Stars game that will be witnessed by an atypical amount of Chicago residents.

Will the Stars end up being more like the New York Rangers or Carolina Hurricanes when it’s all said and done? It should be fascinating to find out.

West playoff update: Sharks lock up second seed, Ducks clinch fourth place

Kyle Wellwood, Ilya Bryzgalov, Ian White

Western Conference playoff race

pzs-1. Vancouver – 117 pts (0 GR)
ys-2. San Jose – 105 pts (0 GR)
ys-3. Detroit – 102 pts (1 GR)
xs-4. Anaheim – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-5. Nashville – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-6. Phoenix – 99 pts (0 GR)
x-7. Los Angeles – 98 pts (0 GR)
8. Chicago – 97 pts (1 GR)
9. Dallas – 95 pts (1 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
s – locked in at current seed
x – clinched playoff spot
GR – games remaining

OK, before we get into the results themselves, here’s a look at where each team could land:

5th place: Nashville or Chicago
6th place: Nashville or Phoenix
7th place: Los Angeles, Phoenix or Chicago
8th place: Los Angeles, Chicago or Dallas

As you can see, the Blackhawks could land anywhere from fifth place to ninth place while the Stars can only take eighth. For a deeper look at the rather convoluted scenarios depending on how Chicago fares, read the upcoming post on their chances.

Now, let’s take a quick tour of Saturday’s biggest games.

San Jose 3, Phoenix 1

The Sharks clinched the second spot in the West with this win, despite Ilya Bryzgalov’s best, stick-flinging efforts. Bryzgalov made a save of the night/week/year worthy stop in the third period, only to allow a Logan Couture power-play goal moments later. The animated Russian netminder was none-too-pleased, revealing his displeasure by throwing his goalie stick behind him. Antti Niemi did his part to frustrate Coyotes shooters, making 35 out of 36 saves.

Anaheim 3, Los Angeles 1

Corey Perry is obviously the biggest reason why the Ducks somehow found their way from a playoff endangered species to the fourth seed with at least one round of home ice advantage. That being said, this team also had a revolving door of heroes this season; to see evidence of that, look no further than their goalies. Ray Emery saved the day when Jonas Hiller went down and now Dan Ellis is saving the day in Emery’s wake, especially tonight. The backup known mostly for the ridicule he received on Twitter took over for Emery when he suffered an injury on Friday, even if that win was preordained. His real work came Saturday, when he stopped 43 out of 44 saves to help his new team earn two huge points in regulation.

St. Louis 2, Nashville 0

The Predators had a chance to earn themselves the fourth seed with just one point, but couldn’t manage a single goal against Jaroslav Halak. As pointless as this win might seem (pun somewhat intended), the Blues were determined to keep this year’s first round pick away from the Colorado Avalanche.

Tampa Bay clobbers Carolina 6-2; Rangers top Hurricanes for East’s eighth seed

Cory Stillman, Vincent Lecavalier, Brett Clark, Martin St. Louis

Earlier this week, it looked like the Carolina Hurricanes would need some help to get into the Eastern Conference playoffs. Instead, the Canes gained a win-and-you’re-in opportunity tonight and absolutely blew it. They will finish two points short of a playoff spot, as the New York Rangers finish ahead in the East thanks to today’s surprising results.

Hours after the Rangers rode a three-goal second period to earn a resounding win against their hated rivals from New Jersey, the Hurricanes allowed three first period goals by their own division foes from Tampa Bay.

Tampa Bay 6, Carolina 2

There are plenty of excuses the Hurricanes can give for soiling themselves in this game. One pundit speculated that they might have been “too tight” in such a huge match. If you ask me, there might have been some fatigue involved too. The Hurricanes absolutely throttled the Atlanta Thrashers last night, but one must wonder if they kicked Atlanta around so vigorously that they didn’t have much juice left against the Bolts. Heck, maybe the Lightning wanted to win one for their former head coach John Tortorella.

You can call that previous paragraph a small list of reasons or a steady stream of excuses, but the bottom line is that Carolina got exactly what they wanted but couldn’t cash in on the opportunity. When you consider the upward trend showed by teams like the Thrashers, New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs for next season, the Canes might be kicking themselves for even longer than expected.

Dominic Moore, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos scored in the first period to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead they wouldn’t yield. Brett “The Hitman” Clark padded that lead to 4-0. Cory Stillman found the net on a power-play opportunity late in the second and Chad LaRose scored 8:33 into the third to make it more interesting at 4-2, but empty-net goals by Simon Gagne and Martin St. Louis shut the door on any hopes of a comeback.

Mike Smith was outstanding in the game, making 42 out of 44 saves and nearly scoring a goal of his own on Carolina’s empty net. He only allowed one goal in the third period, even though the desperate Hurricanes put 17 shots on goal.

To continue the theme of missed opportunities, Carolina’s power play had plenty of chances to inject life into their comeback, but they only scored once despite seven man advantages. Stillman’s goal was that one ray of light, but the team needed a 5-on-3 to make that happen.

Carolina showed some serious spirit in staying in the playoff picture, but ultimately, the Rangers wanted it more and won the big game. It’s going to be a long, long summer for the Hurricanes because of one floptastic night.

Tonight in the West: Kings clinch spot, Blackhawks and Ducks build cushions

Kyle Clifford, Ilya Bryzgalov, Michal Rozsival
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Western Conference playoff race

p – 1. Vancouver – 113 pts (3 GR)
y-2. San Jose – 103 pts (2 GR)
y-3. Detroit – 102 pts (2 GR)
4. Nashville – 97 pts (2 GR)
5. Los Angeles – 98 pts (2 GR)
6. Phoenix – 97 pts (2 GR)
7. Anaheim – 95 pts (2 GR)
8. Chicago – 95 pts (2 GR)
e-9. Calgary – 93 pts (1 GR)
10. Dallas – 91 pts (3 GR)

p- clinched Presidents’ Trophy
z – clinched conference title
y – clinched division title
x – clinched playoff spot
e- eliminated from playoffs

Carolina 3, Detroit 0

Read the full recap here.

The Red Wings lost this game, but with the Sharks’ loss, they basically just stood in place tonight (albeit losing one of their last chances to improve). The biggest loss, though, came in the form of Henrik Zetterberg’s injury.

Chicago 4, St. Louis 3 (OT)

This game also received the fancy pants recap treatment, as you can read here.

Chicago now has a four-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final playoff spot, with two games left. They also ended the night tied with the Ducks with 95 points, although Anaheim holds a tiebreaker advantage that would force the Blackhawks to earn one more point. (The Ducks have 41 non-shootout wins to the ‘Hawks 37, so that advantage will remain.)

Dallas has three games left to close that four-point gap, with their schedule being decidedly easier that Chicago’s remaining schedule (even if two games against the Red Wings will be more manageable without Zetterberg). Still, Chicago also has two more non-shootout wins, so they hold a nice tiebreaker advantage too.

Most simply, Chicago could clinch a playoff spot with three points in their final two games, since the most points Dallas can get is 97. Dropping games – especially in regulation – could make things a lot more complicated.

Anyway, before we move on to the next game, here’s video of that much-debated Marian Hossa goal.

Calgary 6,  Edmonton

The Flames were eliminated from contention tonight, but Jarome Iginla reached 42 goals on the season with a hat trick in his first game since hitting the 1,000-point mark. It’s pretty hard to argue with Calgary’s decision not to trade Iggy, even if they fell just a bit short of the playoffs.

Anaheim 6, San Jose 2

This game was all about Corey Perry, who scored a hat trick to become the first (and possibly only) player in the NHL to hit 50 goals. Perry also had an assist, by the way. (Watch video footage of his great night here.)

The Ducks received a scare when Ray Emery left the net, but he was cleared to play (yet stayed on the bench since the score was so lopsided).

Anaheim can smell the playoffs at this point, but aren’t guaranteed a spot just now. All they need is two more points, though, because the Stars won’t be able to overcome the Blackhawks’ tiebreaker lead in non-shootout wins.

Los Angeles 3, Phoenix 2 (SO)

Jarret Stoll scored the Kings’ first goal and then earned the shootout winner (he’s nine for 10 in that category this season, by the way) to clinch a playoff berth for the Kings. The win also gives Los Angeles a brief hold of fourth place in the West, with 98 points on the season and two games left.

The loss also moves the Coyotes down to sixth place in the West, since the fifth-place Nashville Predators have one more win (both teams have 37 non-shootout wins, though).

Jonathan Toews scores OT-winner to give Chicago a crucial victory

St. Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks

A night after taking the penalty that allowed Montreal to beat his team, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored a bombastic overtime game-winning goal to give his team a crucial two points. Toews and the Blackhawks came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the St. Louis Blues, an eliminated team that nonetheless would have loved nothing more than to hurt their division rivals’ playoff chances.

Instead, they received an empty charity point while bolstering Toews’ Hart Trophy argument. This win doesn’t clinch a playoff spot, but it does give them some space in front of the 10th-place Dallas Stars while eliminating the Calgary Flames from the playoff picture.

Chicago 4, St. Louis 3 (OT)

The 2-0 game was turned on its head when officials allowed a controversial Marian Hossa goal to stand. Hossa kicked the puck toward the net, but it was a tough call to say whether or not he touched the puck before it (seemingly?) crossed the red line. The Stars were able to survive against the Anaheim Ducks thanks to disallowed goals, so it would be interesting if they die by the video review too.

David Backes and T.J. Oshie (who also had an assist) started the scoring off for St. Louis, but that Hossa goal ignited Chicago. Tomas Kopecky and Nick Leddy (also with an assist in the game) ended up scoring in the second period as well.

The Blues wouldn’t just roll over, though, as Chris Stewart scored a highlight reel goal by powering through the Hawks’ defense to send the game to OT. Toews wouldn’t be denied on his breakaway goal, though.

The race between the Blackhawks and Stars isn’t over yet, although Chicago is now in seventh place with 95 points and two games left. Still, this win was a big one for the defending Stanley Cup champions and it shouldn’t be surprising that Toews ended up being the hero.